Barby Asante is an artist, curator and educator and occasional DJ. Her work is concerned with the politics of place, space, identity and the histories and legacies of colonialism making work that is collaborative, performative and dialogic. Asante’s practice explores the archival, makes propositions, collects and maps stories and contributions of people of colour using storytelling, collective actions, and ritual, to excavate, unearth and interrogate given narratives. She resists the idea that the stories of “Other-ness” are alternatives to dominant given narratives, but are interruptions, utterances, presences that exist within, that are invisible, unheard, missing or ignored. By making these narratives visible, asking questions and making proposals she is interested in what these possibilities offer as we examine our present and envision our futures.
Asante is of Ghanaian heritage and studied Fine Art at the University of East London. After completing her MA in Visual Culture at Middlesex University, she was invited to be the artist in residence at the 198 Gallery. Asante has shown work in exhibitions and festivals nationally and internationally and has also been involved in projects with the Live Art Development Agency, Home Live Art, Hewitt and Jordan, The Serpentine Gallery and 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, where she is currently Associate Curator. She has also taught on fine art programmes in London, Berlin, Gothenburg and Rotterdam. She is co-founder of agency for agency a collaborative project concerned with ethics, intersectionality, and education in the contemporary arts who are mentors to the sorryyoufeeluncomfortable collective. Asante is also on the board of the Women’s Art Library and Associate Curator at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning.
Asante was part of ‘Occupied Spaces: A Political GIF Project‘ (2015) and ‘Baldwin’s Nigger RELOADED‘ (2014) at Iniva, alongside Education Curator Teresa Cisneros (Iniva, Nottingham Contemporary, Framer Framed/ Art Rotterdam), from which the London based collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable was formed and continued onto a residency with Iniva in 2014. Asante was Artistic Advisor for Syllabus V between 2019-20, a collaboratively-produced alternative learning programme, delivered by Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge; Eastside Projects, Birmingham; Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), London; S1 Artspace, Sheffield; and Spike Island, Bristol.
Asante’s exhibitions include ‘Diaspora Pavilion’, Palazzo Pisani Santa Marina, Venice (2017); ‘The Queen and the Black Eyed Squint, Starless Midnight’, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts, Gateshead (2017); ‘Framer Framed/Art Rotterdam’, with the London based collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, ‘South London Black Music Archive’, Peckham Platform/Tate Modern, London (2012).
Barby Asante lives and works in London.